Isthmus Instruments - Handpan from the Rabbit-Hole

Based in Madison, U.S.A., Isthmus Instruments, are the creations of one of the first female Handpan-makers, Jenny Robinson.  Like many Jenny first discovered these singing-steel UFOs via YouTube - and in an article over at, Jenny Robinson explains how she “fell down the rabbit-hole", and "fell in love with the sound” upon first hearing them.  And it wasn’t long after, having decided that this was something that she needed within her life, calling upon her machinist-background, Jenny setup her own Handpan-building studio - and would dedicate the next four years (and counting) of her life, to the art of building and tuning Handpan.  And while by her own admission the journey between the points of enthusiastically diving in head-first, and the level she now finds herself at, led to the accumulation of a "grave yard of disaster pans" on-route (as every fledgling maker likely collects). Every mistake was clearly well learned from - as can be heard in the most recent offerings of Isthmus Instruments - one of which; you can take a listen to below...

In addition to building beautiful instruments, building a community around them is also something that is notably of importance to the Isthmus Instruments team - who in mid 2017 hosted the first Handpan gathering in the midwest (which you can check out below) - which they hope to hold annually moving forwards...

And we'll finish off this post by sharing one last recent video from the Isthmus Instuments team, featuring a pair of their more recent creations, including a stunning looking (and sounding) custom-made, golden-tree-adorned; C Aeolian...

To find Isthmus Handpan for sale you can visit their ETSY store: HERE. Or for the latest updates you can find them over at Facebook: HERE. Or over at their official website: HERE.

Do You Cringey-Face? - Making Weird Faces While Playing Music

In a recent video uploaded to YouTube (unfortunately now removed) featuring the unboxing of a brand new Handpan, the YouTuber explained that, “...I'm only gonna show my hands, don’t like cringey face...”. Highlighting a common problem likely suffered by many Handpan’ers (including us) - the urge to distort one's face into all manner of unusual and not normally exhibited facial-gymnastics, and expressions, while playing Handpan. Or as the aforementioned YouTuber put it more simply, “...that cringey face…”.

And it certainly isn’t a phenomenon associated only with the Handpan. Whether you play the piano, the violin, or perhaps most frequently commented upon, the guitar, cringe-face appears to be the curse of musicians across all musical-borders. Affecting some more than others. And while we wouldn't be cruel enough to compile our own compilation of cringey-faced Handpan’ers, you can get the general idea from the compilation below of guitarists showing off their best “guitar faces”.

Perhaps this is the real reason that so many Handpan musicians only show videos of their hands flying across the surface of their instruments.  Could the likes of Adrian J Portia be pulling mad-grimaces just out of camera view?

And while we stated above that we would never be cruel enough to highlight any specific examples of cringey-face within the Handpan community (psyke), hopefully Ravid Goldschmidt won't mind too much, if in exchange for a little extra free advertising (GO BUY AN OVAL!) we share the following video - which is not only one of our favourite Hang performances ever, but also goes some way to proving the correlation between the beauty of any particular piece, and the near-ecstatic facial expressions sometimes exhibited by the player(s) performing it...

How to Stop Cringey-Face

Should you be self-conscious as to your cringey-face when performing - borrowing from a suggestion on a similar post found over at practising and performing in front of a mirror is said to help.  Allowing you not only to study and perhaps learn to control the offending facial expressions.  But it is also said to relieve some of the inner-tensions caused by over-concentration; that are thought to lead to the exhibiting of funny-faces in the first place.

Alternatively, you may well be better off embracing and learning to love your oft-wild facial-manifestations, agonised snarls, wide-eyed orgasmic joy, and all.  Taking comfort in the fact that as long as those listening to your performance aren't making cringey-faces of their own - then things could definitely be worse.

Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures - From Russia With Monkey-Love

While the Handpan instruments of Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures might not be as large, or indeed ferocious, as the giant steel-made "Robot-Kong", from the movie, King Kong Escapes. Should you ever find your home-land terrorized by an oversized, and very ticked-off giant gorilla - instead of building yourself a metal-monkey of epic-proportions with which to battle him to the death, you may well fare better by grabbing yourself one of the sweet-sounding singing-steel UFOs of Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures, and attempting to lull said Kong into a more passive and relaxed state instead.  Serenading and soothing the beast...

Based in Russia, the Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures team consists of Roman Elizarjev and Vitaliy 'IVA' Ivanov.  Two self-described Pantam-enthusiasts turned makers - the Steel Monkey guys are students of Anton Zakharov of Siberia Sound Sculptures.  And have also been working with, or at least obtaining materials (presumably shells) from the SPB crew, headed by Victor Levinson - which demonstrates some serious pedigree right out of the gates.  And you can listen to the Steel Monkey team's most recent offering below...

For more information on Steel Monkey Sound Sculptures, you can find them over at Facebook: HERE.

Inside the PanMagination of Chris Ng - Handpan Art and T-Shirt Designs

Whether simply an admirer of Handpan-themed art, or you’re actively on the lookout for some new Handpan-adorned threads with which to snazz-up your wardrobe - you might enjoy joining us on this brief journey, into the Handpan-centric imaginings of Hong-Kong based artist and designer, Chris Ng.

We’ve stumbled across some interesting Handpan art over the years, such as the Hangism works of AoxoA, and the t-shirt designs of the Charlatan Crew (to name just a couple).  And the curious Handpan-art offerings of Chris Ng add well to this rich tapestry - and are among the most intriguing we’ve yet explored...

From Handpan-airships, to Handpan space-vessels.  Ladies pregnant with Handpan-offsrping, and Handpan-hearts (of the non Valentines day kind).  The arts, stories, sketches, and imaginations of Chris Ng are sure to delight fans of the Handpan (or "Pantam", as Chris prefers to call it) in this world, and in world's both real and imagined beyond...

And to view more of Chris's work (or even to purchase a t-shirt displaying his art) you can find him over at Facebook: HERE.

Pantam Stands - A Handpan Stand by Any Other Name

For those who don’t know, “Pantam”, is essentially an alternative name used by some for the Handpan-family of instruments. Said to be a combination of the words, “Pan”, and “Ghatam”, the Pantam moniker is believed to have first been used in Israel, as an alternative name for the Hang instruments of PANArt, back in the early years. But has now been adopted to some degree in the wider context. So when, with this post, we take a look at the newly offered up Pantam stands of Thomas and Avigdor Ben Tov from Avi Ot Woodcrafts, for our needs here at HPM, you can translate these as being Handpan stands.

The culmination of two years of work and experimentation, these Pantam stands are described as being a: 'Revolutionary, lightweight, foldable playing stand, designed especially for handpans and tongue drums.'  And we've got to admit, that just like the proverbial rose - they do seem pretty sweet.  Check out the official launch video below...

Pantam stands allow playing while both standing up and sitting down, and make it easy to combine multiple Pantams together.  And are said to be very stable, simple to use, and super portable.  The Pantam stands are fast to setup and makes it easy to switch between standing and sitting playing positions. And each Pantam stand ships with a custom case and an adjustable carrying strap.

For more information and/or to make a purchase you can find them for sale via the official website: HERE.  Or via Italy-based Handpan case and accessories stockist Hardcase Technologies: HERE.

Enter the Dojo - Online Handpan Instruction and Courses with David Kuckhermann

Earlier in the year we took a brief look at a couple of other online Handpan schools, including, by David Charrier. And in a similar vein with this post, we’ll be directing your attentions towards the "Handpan Dojo" - a collection of online instructional Handpan courses put together by top-notch Handpan musician, and instructor, David Kuckhermann. That offers a web-based course for beginners to the instrument-type, and a second course offering more advanced techniques (with possibly more to come).

David Kuckhermann has been a familiar face in the Handpan-world for many years now (and in the wider world of world-percussion). His album "The Path of the Metal Turtle" remains a popular favourite.  And the series of instructional DVDs put out in conjunction with fellow Handpan-mainstay, Colin Foulke, back in 2012, were a well-received first of their kind. With the Handpan Dojo walking a similar (but new and updated) path, while also making the content more conveniently (and immediately) available via online streaming.

And for a little taste of the flow of the Dojo's direction, you can watch an introductory video below...

'Now climb, young grasshopper, so your Kung-Fu won't be weak'.

Ready to enter the Dojo - in search of further information, or to begin your training?  Then roundhouse-kick your way on over to HERE.

The Booty-Tap-Mallet-Lever-Thingamajigs of Nakayama Daisuke

Here at HPM, as with the Gu Boosters, GuSkin, PanHook, and HandClap type gizmos of recent times - if you can clip it to, shove it in, wrap it around, or essentially attach your new invention to a Handpan in any way, shape, or form - we’ll probably be interested in taking a look at it.

And while most of the aforementioned Handpan accessories bring additional sonic qualities to Handpan-play, like the PanHook, the booty-tap mallet lever system (for lack of a better name) recently invented by Japanese Handpan musician, Nakayama Daisuke, is a device that addresses a more practical problem.

With the growing number of Handpan now featuring bottom notes, often called "Booty Taps", which while great for increasing the range of a Handpan, some may find them awkward to activate. Which is where Nakayama Daisuke's invention, complete with what appears to be a small yellow rubber tortoise, comes in. With its intended purpose being to make those "hard to reach areas" (at the risk of sounding like some kind of toiletries commercial), easier to play. Through the use of its lever/mallet system. And while not speaking Japanese we have very little idea of what is being said in the follwing video, a translation of the description reads as follows:

'I made a mallet for hitting the Tonefield on the back of the handpan. Recently, there are more ones on the back of the hand pan with Tonefield. But, is not it hard for you to hit the back! What? So I tried to make a mallet for hitting the back side.'

And whether these are, or will be at a later date, available commercially, we’re not sure. But if this seems like something that you might be interested in learning more about - we recommend subscribing to Nakayama Daisuke's YouTube channel: HERE.

The World's Smallest Steel Tongue Drum? - Pocket-Sized Singing-Steel

While these may not be actual Handpan, it has to be said, that sometimes, carrying a full-size Handpan around with you, can be a bit of a pain in the bum.  And should you be heading to a location where the idea of carrying your Handpan with you is unbearable, or for other reasons, impractical, or impossible, but you might still like to play a little melodic steel once you’re there - the following teeny-tiny pocket-sized steel tongue drum, just might present one (if only temporary quick-fix) solution to the problem. Or perhaps they'll find merit with you as a complimentary or standalone instrument in their own right.

WuYou 3" Steel Tongue Drums

We've been curious as to what these tiny little steel tongue drum listed for sale at ETSY (pictured above-right) sound like for a little while, but could find no video/audio samples listed on the site. And while a good rummage around the internet failed to turn up much, we did discover a couple of (very) short sound sample videos over at YouTube that demo their sound...

The World’s Smallest Steel Tongue Drum?

Back in 2012 we discovered the Micro6 steel tongue drum from Japanese maker, Cimantone (video below)...  

Which until now, to our knowledge, reigned supreme as the world’s smallest functional singing-steel UFO.  But with its width of 3.5 inches, it looks like the even smaller WuYou mini, with a width of just 3 inches, has the Micro6 beat - in terms of pocket-friendliness. While even managing to squeeze in one additional note.

And while the sounds of both of these miniature honorary-family-members might sound quite distinct from those of an actual Handpan - they are not without their own charms. And to conclude this post, you can listen to one final short video of what are seemingly now the new record holders of the title of "The World's Smallest Steel Tongue Drum", below...

Before moving on over to ETSY for more information, and/or to make a purchase, should you so wish to do so.

Videos of the Week, and then Some - with Jeremy Nattagh

We briefly mentioned Handpan-artist, Jeremy Nattagh, in our last post titled “The Hanpan Meets Johann Sebastian Bach”, highlighting the work of fellow TwinPan band-mate, Laurent Sureau.  And with this post we’d like to take a closer look at the offerings of Jeremy himself.  

At the beginning of the year we made ourselves the new-years resolution to make greater efforts to showcase some of those we consider to be the finest artists out there in Handpan-land - especially those who do not always get the recognition that they rightfully deserve.  And in that regard we have somewhat failed. Which is something that we hope to make amends for with this post - by shining a spotlight on one of those “must subscribe to” Handpan-performers - for those who appreciate and enjoy truly exceptional Handpan music…

We featured an example of one of Jeremy’s more outlandish video performances in our post on EXTREME Handpan’ing earlier in the year, which are always worth a look (and we have it on good authority that there is more of that to come in the very near future) - but when it comes to the music of Jeremy Nattagh, you may well come for the novelty, but you'll stay for the remarkable talent, and the truly beautiful compositions that Jeremy weaves from these steel UFOs that we, and presumably those reading this website, love so much. Many notable examples of which can be heard by listening to Jeremy's "Video of the Week" series...

And if you haven’t already rushed on over to subscribe to Jeremy’s YouTube channel, we’ll conclude this post with one final offering with which to tempt you to do so...

To learn more about Jeremy Nattagh you can visit him over at his official website: HERE. Or follow him over at Facebook: HERE.

The Handpan Meets Johann Sebastian Bach - with Laurent Sureau

For those unfamiliar, Johann Sebastian Bach, was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period (1600 to 1750). He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.

A revival that continues with recent performances from Handpan-musician, Laurent Sureau.  Who in addition to boasting one of the most impressive Handpan set-ups we’ve yet stumbled across - has been busy bringing some of Bach's most beautiful compositions; into the steel-age. Such as the following classical arrangement for the Handpan, of Bach's, Prelude MWV 846 - the first prelude and fugue in the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier, a series of 48 preludes and fugues by the composer...

Laurent grew up in a musical family and his passion for music started early. He began learning piano at the age of 6, then expanded his range of skills by studying percussion: classic and contemporary first (timpani, vibraphone, etc.), then drums from various continents (congas, Cajon, West African balafon) and drums, chromatic balafon, and of course, the Hang/Handpan.

And in addition to a variety of other outfits, Laurent performs alongside fellow Handpan-composer, Jeremy Nattagh, as one-half of the also quite exceptional, TwinPan. And you can hear another of Laurent Sureau's Handpan renditions of a Johann Sebastian Bach classic, this time in the form of PRELUDE-SUITE for Cello N°1- G Maj" BWV 1007, below...

To hear more from Laurent Sureau, you can visit him over at his official website: HERE.  Or you can find him over at YouTube: HERE.

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